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date: 03 December 2022

Self-Help Groups and Organizationslocked

Self-Help Groups and Organizationslocked

  • Steven P. SegalSteven P. SegalMack Distinguished Professor and Director, Mental Health and Social Welfare Research Group and The Mack Center on Mental Health and Social Conflict, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley


Self-help groups facilitate mutual assistance. They offer a vehicle for people with a common problem to gain support and recognition, obtain information on, advocate on behalf of, address issues associated with, and take control of the circumstances that bring about, perpetuate, and provide solutions to their shared concern. Self-help groups may be small informal groups, confined to interactive support for their members, or differentiated and structured multiservice agencies. In the latter case, they are recognized in the self-help community as mutual assistance organizations, as distinct from professionally led organizations, when they are directed and staffed by “self-helpers” and when these self-helpers are well represented as board members and have the right to hire and fire professionals in the organization. Self-help groups and organizations empower members through shared example and modeled success. Spread throughout the world they are a major resource to social workers seeking to help their clients to help themselves.


  • Clinical and Direct Practice
  • Human Behavior
  • Populations and Practice Settings

Updated in this version

The effectiveness of self-help organizations as distinct from smaller groups updated. It clarified the distinction between mutual assistance groups run by people with a common problem, with the ‘lived experience,’ and professionally-led support groups.

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